Until I get my test back in class tonight, this may be the best day ever

Our weirdo neighbors' house is for sale (albeit, again. The first time was FSBO, though.)! I just went to get the mail and the shiny CBS Home sign caught my eye like a Coach purse on a clearance rack. If you know anyone in the market (Hites? Neals? JK :-), encourage them to check it out! I am not just saying that because our neighbors are TOTALLY WEIRD. It'd be nice to have fun people next to us.

No information on the house online yet, but I will keep you posted. I'm going to do this realtor's job for her!


I'm thrilled about this. Now if we could get a Nordies, PaperSource, Crate & Barrel and H&M I'd be the happiest Omahan around.

Published Tuesday April 29, 2008
Anthropologie is coming to Regency

Alicia Reisinger loves the pants.

And the cafe au lait bowls.

And the textiles. And the fabrics.

And she's pleased to hear she won't have to travel to Chicago or Kansas City to visit Anthropologie, which announced Tuesday that it would open a store in Omaha's Regency Court shopping center in October.

"Yay!" said Reisinger, who moved to Lincoln from Chicago about 18 months ago.

Reisinger is one of many area fans of the popular retailer, which features women's clothing, shoes, bags, accessories, jewelry and home décor items.

"I really enjoy the eclectic nature of the clothing," she said. "It's kind of a business casual with a little bit of creativity spiced up in it."

Fans such as Reisinger helped lure Anthropologie to Omaha, which is a smaller market for the chain, said Lorraine Adney of the McDevitt Co. The company oversees site selection and leasing for Anthropologie.

In four or five trips to Omaha, almost every woman she spoke to told her they went out of the area, usually to Kansas City or Chicago, to shop at Anthropologie.

"We certainly know that we have Omaha shoppers based on Anthropologie's Internet and catalog sales," she said.

The new store is a coup for Regency Court, which adds it to a lineup that includes fashion stores White House/Black Market, Ann Taylor Loft, Tilly, Parsow's, Pura Vida Blue and the recently opened Solstice Sunglass Boutique, not to mention jeweler Borsheims.

"We have been working on this deal for two years," said John Lund, chief executive officer of the Lund Co., owner of Regency Court along with partner RED Development LLC.

The 10,500-square-foot store will be at the southwest corner of the center, with a very visible exterior storefront, Lund said.

The lineup of stores already at the shopping center played into the chain's decision to come to Omaha, Lund said.

"Retailers look to go to centers that have others that are successful," he said.

Anthropologie's fall opening will increase foot traffic and awareness of Regency Court, Lund said.

"And we'll be going into the fall season, which everyone knows is the season of sales for retailers," he said. "They're coming in at a phenomenal time."

It will also save Reisinger some long-distance shopping. She's been to Anthropologie, either in Chicago or in her native Kansas City, about six times since moving to Lincoln, and she'd just been to the Chicago store about three weeks ago to look for summer clothes and work pants.She said it was the store's mixture of the whimsical and the sophisticated that appealed to her.

"Anthropologie is one of the most requested retailers in the market because of its unique sense of style," Lund said in a press release.

Anthropologie was founded in 1992. The nearest current outlets include Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Mo., and the Cherry Creek Shopping Center in Denver.

"Regency Court is so well located in the very heart of Omaha, and the intimate size of the center was very attractive to Anthropologie," said Adney.

"Regency has a unique super-regional draw with Borsheims as its anchor," she said. "We know that Omaha shoppers are sophisticated and they seek out Anthropologie in other cities, so we are delighted to finally bring the Anthropologie shopping experience home to them.

"Maybe not as delighted as Reisinger.

"This is great news," she said. "I'll live on this for a while today."


Test Schmest

What's way more fun than going to class to review for a test? How about going to class and HAVING a test. Cause that's sure what happened tonight. Whoops. I'm very annoyed with myself.


Viva Las Vegas

Last weekend a large group of gals headed to Vegas for Kristis's bachelorette party. In abiding by the famous "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" slogan, I can't reveal too many details. And honestly, the details are a little fuzzy anyway. What I can tell you is 12 of us crammed into an 1,100 square foot suite at the Venetian. The room and resort were beautiful! In fact, the only time we left the Venetian was when we ventured to the liquor store Friday night upon arrival in Vegas. We manged to get into the VIP line to Tao, which meant no line, no cover and and free drinks from 10-11. Can't complain about that! Sadly, we didn't see any celebs there. It's quite a celebrity hot spot you know. Saturday was spent by the pool and it was wonderful. The highlight definitely came Saturday night when Kristi and I put an $11 voucher in a dollar slot machine and hit a $722 jackpot. We were pretty pumped!

I'm heading back to Vegas May 4 for work and I have a feeling that trip will be a little different than this one :-).

Happy bachelorette party, Kristi!


I, Q, Take You, U

This might be one of the cutest stories I've read. It's the if-I-wasn't-in-PR-I'd-be-a-kindergarten-teacher in me.

Published Thursday April 24, 2008
Kids make perfect match with marriage of Q and U

There was a wedding this week at Reeder Elementary School.

Four brides representing the letter U and four grooms representing Q from the school's four kindergarten classes joined together in word matrimony.

Emma Heidvogel and Jayden Payne take part in Reeder Elementary School's wedding of the letters Q and U this week.Their classmates were bridesmaids and groomsmen.

There are, of course, exceptions to the rule that U comes after Q, but teachers wanted to stick to the basics with the kindergartners.

Reading teacher Denise Parker officiated in the ceremony at the school, 19202 Chandler St.

"Ladies and gentleman, we are gathered here today to join Miss U and Mr. Q in word matrimony," Parker said.

"Mr. Q, will you stand by Miss U in words like quarter and quack?

"Miss U, will you stand by Mr. Q in words like square, squid and squash?"

Cake, mints and juice boxes followed the ceremony. Other schools in the Millard school district have held similar "weddings" to impress the rule of Q and U on their students.

This will be something they will remember, Parker said.

"The lesson we hope they learned is when they write a q, put a u."

Emily Hahn, 5, had fun being a bride and believes Q and U should be married.

"They always have to go together," she said.

Jacob Novacek didn't think he would get married at age 6½, but he understood the purpose of the ceremony. "They have to go together," Jacob said of the letters.

"They go together all the time," said Lindsey Nelson, 6, one of the bridesmaids.

Annie Henning has taught kindergarten at the school since it opened three years ago.

The students are used to learning letters in isolation, so it was good for them to start putting them together, she said.

Dan Green, who is retired from the Air Force, came to watch his 5-year-old son Mathew.

"It was a lot of fun for the kids," Green said.


March for Babies!

For the past year Barkley has had the pleasure of working with the March of Dimes on their rebranding effort. While I haven't personally worked on the account, I'm learning more and more about this wonderful organization and what they do everyday. March of Dimes is more important than I ever knew it was...and honestly, I think I realize it even more because of the sons and daughters many of my friends are welcoming into this world. They have all been born happy and healthy for which I am very, very grateful. Supporting the March of Dimes will help to make sure future babies start their lives the same way.

March of Dimes has an annual fundraising walk called March for Babies (formerly WalkAmerica). The Omaha March for Babies is taking place April 27 at Mahoney State Park. The Kansas City March for Babies is talking place May 4. Unfortunately, because of a prior commitment and business travel I won't be marching in either but I am raising money. And let's be honest - that's what really counts. Please consider donating to my March for Babies babies goal of $100. Proceeds benefit March of Dimes' mission of improving the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. Donations can be made safely online by clicking here.

I, along with moms, dads, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, friends and babies around the world, thank you in advance.

Click here to help me reach my goal!


Ellen in Chicago

Hey there - Ellen DeGeneres is going to be in Chicago and I just applied online for tickets. Everyone should do the same! Click here for the entry form and if you win you have to take me :-).


Meeting and Greeting Stella

Tonight we got to meet precious Stella! She is such a cute, sweet baby and she, Sam and Annie are all doing great. We roadtripped to Lincoln with the Shearers and the Hites and spent about an hour at St. Elizabeth's (where Mike was also born) doting over the Neals. Of course Stella was passed around the room and we all took turns holding the little thing. And of course we had to end the visit with dinner and a celebratory drink at Lazlo's (where we of course cheersed the Neals). I don't think I can say it enough - we're so thrilled for them!

PS: Denise, I just realized I didn't get a photo of you and Stella and I apologize greatly! Next time - I promise!


This is not news to the Omahans that read this blog, but to the out-of-staters (and there are so many of you - not), Omaha has this great "O" sculpture thing going on. A few years ago artists designed their own "O"s and they, all very different, are located throughout Omaha.

Anyhoo, I just read an article on Omaha.com about a Web site that allows everyone to make their own virtual O. It's very fun and I encourage you to check it out!


Welcome Stella!

At 6:56 p.m. yesterday, Sam and Annie welcomed Stella Alexandra Neal into the world! Haven't seen photos yet but with blue eyes and brown hair she sounds absolutely darling! Most importantly mom and baby are both doing well! We're planning to head to Lincoln tomorrow night to congratulate the Neals in person and to meet little Stella. We are absolutely thrilled for Sam and Annie and can't wait to meet this little girl. Many blessings to the Neals!


Puppy Mills

Friday’s Oprah was all about puppy mills. This story came to fruition after Oprah, — and thousands of drivers — saw a billboard in Chicago that read, "Oprah: Do a show on puppy mills. The dogs need you." The story was absolutely heart-wrenching and not just because I love dogs. Anyone who has a heart or simply believes in humane treatment should be shocked by the horrors of puppy mills.

The man behind the billboard was Bill Smith, founder of Main Line Animal Rescue. Every year, Bill and several volunteers rescue hundreds of abused, unwanted or abandoned animals, rehabilitate them and adopt them out to families. Many of the animals Bill rescues come from puppy mills, which he describes as places where bad breeders care more about the profit they make from puppies than the health or welfare of the animals. On this episode of Oprah, Lisa Ling and Bill went on an undercover mission to puppy mills in Pennsylvania. Here are some of the shocking things they shared on Oprah:

- The mom dog in one cage was stepping over and on her puppies because the crate they were all crammed into was just so small.
- There were two dead animals lying on the property of one puppy mill they entered. The owner wouldn’t let Lisa and Bill into his building, so who knows of the horrifying conditions of that puppy mill.
- Many of the dogs had never stepped on grass. Ever.
- One dog had a huge wound on its neck with a chain collar on – rubbing through the raw wound. Some dogs had chains on, estimated to be on them for their entire lives. Many had the chains embedded into their skin because they had been worn for so long.
- Lisa and Bill picked up seven labs that at one puppy mill that were going to be shot because they can “no longer produce.”
- These dogs live in crates outside year round – even in the cold and snow.
- Most of the puppy mill dogs live 8-10 years in rabbit cages. Some of the dogs don’t even know how to walk.
- One adult lab was terrified to walk on ground. He had never stepped foot on solid ground – only the bottom of a wire crate.
- One female dog reproduced so many times it was estimated she gave birth to more than 140 puppies.

There was something else that really got me. Meet “Shrimp.” (Bill names the dogs as he says most of the dogs in puppy mills never get names and most will never know human affection EVER in their life.)

The photo on the left is what Shrimp looked like when Bill rescued him from a breeder. You wouldn't know it by looking at that photo, but Shrimp is a malti-poo, and should look a lot like Macy. Bill adopted Shrimp himself, and a little over a year after his rescue, you can see what Shrimp looks like today (photo on the right):

Puppy mills are filthy, cruel businesses that see dogs as nothing but money-makers. Believe it or not there are dog auctions where puppy mill owners go to buy female dogs to reproduce. One puppy auctioneer actually sold a dog by saying “what other dog is going to get you $2,000 in puppies in one litter?”

Here are some tips for getting a dog and for putting a STOP to puppy mills:

1. Consider adoption.If you're looking to make a dog part of your family, check your local shelters first. Not only will you be saving a life, but you will ensure that your money is not going to support a puppy mill. There are many dogs waiting for homes in shelters all across the country—and an estimated one in four is a purebred! Your second option is breed rescue. If your heart is set on a specific breed you haven't been able to find in a shelter, you can do an Internet search for a breed-specific rescue organization in your area.

2. Do your homework before buying from a pet store.The puppy that charmed you through the pet shop window may have come from a large-scale, substandard commercial breeding facility, commonly known as a puppy mill. In these facilities, parent dogs are caged and bred as often as possible and give birth to puppies who could have costly medical problems you might not become aware of until after you bring your new pet home.

3. Internet buyers, beware.Buying a puppy from the Internet could be risky. If you buy a puppy based on a picture and a phone call, you have no way of seeing the puppy's breeding premises or meeting his parents. And those who sell animals on the Internet are not held to the Animal Welfare Act regulations—and so are not inspected by the USDA. If you fall in love with a puppy over the internet, make a visit to the breeder in person and follow the guidelines for how to recognize a responsible breeder.

4. Know how to recognize a responsible breeder.If you've exhausted your options for adopting and are choosing to buy from a breeder, remember that responsible breeders have their dogs' interests in mind. They are not simply interested in making a sale, but in placing their pups in good homes. A responsible breeder should screen you as thoroughly as you screen them.

5. See where your puppy was born and bred.One sign that you are speaking to an unscrupulous breeder is that they will not let you see the facility in which your puppy was born. Always ask to see the breeding premises and to meet both parents—or at least the mother—of the puppy you want to take home. Ask to see the area where the mother dog actually lives and breeds. You should also ask for an adoption contract that explains, in terms you understand, the breeder's responsibilities, health guarantee and return policy.

6. Get an animal locally.Local shelters, rescue groups and breeders should be your first resource when looking for a new pet. There's bound to be a loving animal in your area that needs a home.

7. Share your puppy mill story with the ASPCA.If you have—or think you have—purchased a puppy mill puppy, tell your story. Every bit of evidence gives advocates more power to get legislation passed that will ban puppy mills.

8. Speak out to your legislator.Inform your state and federal legislators that you are disturbed by the inhumane treatment of dogs in puppy mills and would like to see legislation passed that ensures that all animals bred to be pets are raised in healthy conditions. You can keep up-to-date about current legislation to ban puppy mills by joining the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade. Visit http://www.aspca.org/ for more information.

I admit we did not rescue Macy from a shelter; we purchased her from a breeder that we knew and was highly recommended. We were very wary of puppy mills and made sure we were not supporting such an awful business. I encourage everyone else to do the same.


Designed by Sabrina Blog

As many of you know, my friend Sabrina designs logos, invitations, announcements, cards, etc. In addition to her Web site, she just launched a blog showcasing some of her work. Check it out.

I can barely take it anymore!

Baby Girl Neal is due SUNDAY! And, while I want her born on Sunday (that's what I guessed in the poll :-)), I want her here now so we can meet her! For some reason I thought it was happening yesterday and every time my phone rang and it was a friend I thought maybe it was baby news :-).

Anyway, congratulations again, Sam and Annie! We're all so anxious to meet your new daughter!


I was kind of hoping for a reunion tour; I didn't get to see them back in the day.

They may be pushing 40, but the New Kids are returning to the block.

New Kids on the Block sold millions of records in the late '80s and early '90s.

The boy band New Kids on the Block, which sold 70 million albums in the 1980s and early '90s, has reunited and plans to release a new album and go on tour. The reunion comes 20 years after the release of the group's multiplatinum album, "Hangin' Tough."

"The fan response to this has been incredible," band member Donnie Wahlberg told the Boston Herald.

Wahlberg said he was persuaded to get back together with his former bandmates -- Joey McIntyre, brothers Jordan and Jonathan Knight and Danny Wood -- when they decided to record new music. Wahlberg said he wrote 80 percent of the new material with McIntyre and Jordan Knight.

"I had no interest going out on a nostalgia tour and singing the same material," said Wahlberg, 38.

But he added: "We absolutely will do the old songs for sure."

Producer Maurice Starr formed the group in Boston in the 1980s, hoping to recreate the success he had with another teen group from Boston, New Edition.

At the height of their popularity, New Kids sold out world tours, marketed millions of dollars in merchandise and spawned a Saturday morning cartoon.

The group disbanded in 1994. Wahlberg has acted on television and in movies, while Jordan Knight, McIntyre and Wood released solo albums. Jonathan Knight became a real estate developer.